Daniel Lemire's blog

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Basic email skills

3 thoughts on “Basic email skills”

  1. Ibrahim says:

    Email, is an effective way of communication and I’m glad the days of Forwards are gone, almost. I’ve been using email for the past 18 years and I wish I could say that I have mastered it. But the way we use it at work and personally differs.

    Sure no proper format or guideline are required when you are emailing your friends and family. But in the office, it is implied that you put your emotions aside and say just what you have to say formally.

    But I have noticed that in the past few years, as we all caught the social-twitosphere-facebooking bug, formal emails are no different then an interjection. A lot of times I see emails that resemble my twitter feed.

    Maybe it is because email clients are trying to convert emails into conversations. So it is all too common to get an email in the middle of the night that looks like this:

    From: Big Boss
    Re: Product Brainstorm Meeting.

  2. @Ibrahim

    I think that a 140-character email can be quite effective. For example:

    1. “I approve the project.”

    2. “Yes, I accept your thesis.”

    And so on.

  3. Interleaving the reply with pertinent quotes of the earlier email is also important. It helps keep the email short as I don’t have to provide context in my own words for each part of my reply and the reader can initially ignore the quote unless they can’t recall the context which they then find close at hand.

    “Don’t top post!” is a common summary of this, but it’s misses out the importance of trimming the quotes. Worst of all is the top-poster that then interleaves comments in the mass of quoted-email upon quoted-email that follows, expecting the readers to scroll down looking for them when, by now, most readers have been trained to stop as soon as the quoting starts.